Poo-Powered VW Beetle Runs Clean

Volkswagen just debuted a prototype for a new vehicle lovingly dubbed the “Bio-Bug” that runs on processed sewage.

Bio-BeetleVolkswagen just debuted a prototype for a new vehicle lovingly dubbed the “Bio-Bug” that runs on processed sewage. Aw yeah. How perfect is this?

If there’s one thing we humans have got too much of, it’s crap. Turning that into power, which can get a vehicle from point A to point B is no easy task, though. As Autoblog Green’s Frank Filipponio points out, making methane clean enough to power an engine over the long term has been a serious challenge.

GENeco, a subsidiary of the British sewage treatment company Wessex Water, appears to have made a breakthrough. The subsidiary worked with Volkswagen on a vehicle prototype, which just made its poo-powered debut in Bristol. According to the GENeco, first the methane is produced from sewage through anaerobic digestion by bacteria. Ultimately, bugs make the Bug go. Then the methane needs to be treated with a process called “biogras upgrading,” which involves “carbon dioxide being separated from the biogas using specialist equipment.” Wish I had more details but that’s all they’re revealing for now.

The results are impressive. A converted 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine runs on the biogas and can go speeds of about 114 miles per hour, Filipponio reports. He adds that it uses regular gas to start and then immediately switches to methane. Apparently drivers won’t be able to tell the difference between driving in a standard car and one powered by the gas.

GENeco says that 70 households’ worth of human waste is enough to power the vehicle for a year or 10,000 miles. While I still have lingering questions about methane for use in vehicles, including just how much cleaner the process is end-to-end compared to electricity or biodiesel, this little dung Beetle certainly shows promise. At the very least it proves that little bugs can achieve big things.

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Source: Alyssa Danigelis | Discovery News
Photo: GENeco | Discovery News